Hello! And Happy New Year to you all! We celebrated Christmas and the New Year in the British Virgin Islands helping some friends out with their holiday charter. And man, it was glorious to be over there and seeing our friends who have been so close, yet so far away, for the past few years. In the tradition of the Virgin Islands, there were many blessings made to the old year in the days leading up to the conclusion of 2022. A tradition that I very much enjoy. Because without looking behind us at our accomplishments, our challenges, our joyous times and our hardships, it may be difficult to focus on the new year (and our goals for it) that lies ahead. So, today, as I rejoin you all in cyberspace and reporting from home on St. John, I wanted to take a moment to look back on some high points from 2022 in Love City.
January of 2022 was absolutely bustling with good news and sentimental moments. Plastic recycling was introduced to St. John for the first time ever which was a HUGE win for Island Green Living and our island community and environment as a whole!
We bid a fond farewell, in a sailor’s fashion, to Captain Phil from the cove in front of Lovango Cay with boats and mariners from St. John gathering to pay homage to a man who meant so much to the maritime community here.
Cinnamon Bay Campground re-opened to host overnight guests for the first time since before Irma with their eco-tents and campground fully refurbished and fantastically inviting the spirit of St. John of yester year back to the shores of Cinnamon Bay.
Oh, and can you believe that at this time last year, we were still testing and masking for COVID-19? It seems like decades ago at this point and these regulations are one thing I am completely FINE with leaving in 2022 🙂
In February, we were one step closer to venturing back into the British Virgin Islands when Inter Island Boast Services announced that their day trips to Jost van Dyke would be resuming for the first time since March of 2020. The Parrot Club opened their doors for the first time since September of 2017 with an incredible new look, expanded gaming area and drink menu.
As we moved into the spring, mask mandates were (finally!) lifted on March 14 and we moved closer to normalcy here in the territory. Road work and re-paving also began on Centerline Road that month and gave all of our island cars an eventual sigh of relief.
An apartment fire in Grunwald left nearly twenty St. John residents in need of housing and financial assistance and this community, both near and far, rallied around them to make sure that not one of them was without a roof, a bed and a hot meal at the end of the day.
La Tapa re-opened in their new waterfront location with an incredible view to match the ambiance and cuisine.
In April, the sea turtle nesting season on St. John kicked off with LEATHERBACKS laying their eggs on North Shore beaches. Twenty nests have been discovered and protected on St. John by Friends of Virgin Islands National Park and their turtle protection program in 2022 (16 Hawksbill, 2 Green, 2 Leatherback). Oh, and you can currently order a souvenir sea turtle license plate from Friends VINP in support of this amazing program!
As the summer months neared, we saw the Sahara Dust move into the territory, blasting our horizon lines with surreal sunsets and a natural hurricane defense system. And then the announcement came that we had all been waiting for. On May 31, 2022, the USVI Travel Portal was, at last, put to rest and COVID-19 testing was no longer required for arrivals to the Virgin Islands.
ZoZo’s had a horse representing them and, in turn, St. John in the Kentucky Derby…
And Sailing Vessel Pepper returned to Coral Bay. She is now fully ready for charter bookings. And I will absolutely be letting you know more about that very soon!
And then, in June, we celebrated. Carnival returned after a two-year hiatus with a beautiful Food Fair to kick off the festivities. Progress on the roadways of our little rock continued.
We hesitated to kick off the beginnings of hurricane season and mourned the loss of many folks who had chosen to follow a different path and leave St. John for greener (albeit not bluer) pastures.
After the dust settled in July from invigorating Carnival, Independence Day and Emancipation celebrations, we received some fun news from the land of restaurants. Delyvonne opened her breakfast bistro high atop Bordeaux Mountain and The Terrace was named one of the top fifty restaurants in the Caribbean by The Caribbean Journal.
Oh, and St. John Scoops opened in their new expanded location at Mongoose Junction, offering more sweets, ice creams and other treats than ever before.
August came and went without a natural incident (cheers to a free and clear 2022 Hurricane Season!) and Ronnie’s, a cherished pizza shop on island, announced they would be moving to a new location (now open at Palm Plaza across the street from St. John Market!). Bar Wars returned to The Beach Bar with an epic turnout and over $10,000 raised for Island Health and Wellness Center.
However, in August, we also mourned the loss of St. John’s Barefoot Minister, an angel here on earth, Anne Marie Porter. The new edition of BE KIND stickers have now been made in her honor. If you would like to make a donation to the Animal Care Center in her memory and receive a sticker, please reach out to the ACC via phone (340 774 1625) or email them at info at [email protected].
As the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Irma came and went in September, we were narrowly missed by Hurricane Fiona who was not as kind to our island family in Puerto Rico, ravaging much of the vast island with flooding and power outages.
The long awaited construction of the playground near the National Park Dock was announced. Friend of Virgin Islands National Park and the National Park Service broke ground on the new community area on October 1.
And Katie joined us in writing her first blog posts for News of St. John, encapsulating beautiful island scenes and a ton of great information!
As October scurried in, restaurants began to re-open their doors as the off-season slowly drew to a close. The Chaotic Kayak Race returned to St. John, raising funds, awareness and spirits for our wounded veterans. Oh, and speaking of events, the announcement came that the 8 Tuff Miles Race WOULD be happening on the last Saturday of February. That’s less than two months from now…Are your running shoes ready???
And many St. John establishments were featured in a brilliantly composed article in Food and Wine Magazine; shining a spotlight on the culinary scene that has emerged in the aftermath of two category five hurricanes and a pandemic.
Beautiful things happened in November, giving us all a reason to be grateful! Hurricane season concluded without mishap and the Friends VINP guided Reef Bay Hike started up again.
The British Virgin Islands finally opened their doors to our USVI based charter companies once again.
And we saw SO much RAIN! The hillsides are still emerald green from those wet November weeks!
And, in December, ALL of our beautiful holiday happenings returned after a two-year delay (not canceled, just postponed!). The Governor hosted his annual children’s party and tree lighting celebration in the park early in the month. St. John Brewers gave reason to put on our not so swanky holiday attire for the Ugly Sweater Party. And this year’s “prom” was one for the record books, a culmination of that Love City Holiday Vibe. Santa Claus greeted the children at the ferry dock on Christmas Eve after visiting with them earlier that morning during brunch at Sun Dog.
It was an absolute whirlwind of a holiday season. Chaos in the best possible way.
I guess, as I write this, I realize I tend to look more at the positives than the negatives of this past year (and life in general). It has not been perfect. Every day, every week, every month has its own share of challenges and negative happenings. But the positives, I believe, are a good stepping-stone to move forward into this bright new year. And it is so incredible to look back and see how much has been accomplished this year on our tiny little rock.
Together, we raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for St. John charities in 2022. Community members and visitors rallied time and time again for trash collection, beautifying our shorelines. SO many businesses have expanded, re-opened their doors or opened for the first time this past year. COVID-19 testing, masking and restrictions have become a thing of the past, making it easy to hug and love on one another to celebrate these successes. Our roadways have vastly improved (yes, I understand there is still more to do). A new playground and community space is in the works and SO many educational outdoor activities are being offered in an effort to make the vacation experience more inclusive of the natural and cultural resources here on St. John. In short, I’m going to call 2022 a win and set some large expectations for 2023. I hope you will all join me in raising a glass to that!